Bordentown Rotary Club Young Professionals-Walk 4 Recovery-Love The Addict, Hate The Disease-Covered by Photojournalist Deirdre Ryan

Last night, I volunteered my photography services with my local Rotary Club for the first Walk 4 Recovery(#walk4recovery). We all met at Hope Hose Humane Co. 1 Firehouse, which is literally steps from my home. The night was cold, our breaths made clouds in the air, but the common ground we all stood upon was one to last and encourage.

This walk was also to support those fighting against addictions, which is a disease, their families and friends who are helping them. To get rid of the stigma of addiction.

I saw many who have lost family members, and friends to addiction, a lot of familiar faces. One family here in Bordentown have lost a son and, very recently, lost a daughter to addiction.

Our local police blocked off the streets, making it safe for us to walk. This was all made possible by volunteers, from the t-shirts, the food, everything.  Bill Mercantini, our Bordentown Rotary Club President spoke, then Mayor Lynch. Angelique Flynn spoke of her struggles with addiction, who is now 8 years sober. Father Matt Tucker offered a prayer and spoke out at least 50 names of those lost or struggling. This walk was enormous for its the first time, I think about 200 people attended.

Thank you to everyone who made this possible!

The article below is from The Burlington County Times, their reporter, Kelly Kultys and photographer Dave Hernandez, covered the event, as well as The Register-News(which is now back).

Bordentown residents walk for recovery

By Kelly Kultys

Posted Nov 14, 2018 at 9:40 PM Updated Nov 14, 2018 at 10:41 PM

The Bordentown Rotary Club and the Young Professional Rotary Club of Bordentown hosted the first Candlelight Walk as a way to help break the stigma of addiction.

BORDENTOWN CITY — “I walk for …” signs covered the backs of hundreds of people Wednesday night as they walked with candles in hand around the city.

The crowd gathered together for the first Rotary4Recovery walk, aimed at helping break the stigma of addiction and recovery.

Dawn Walton, of Mansfield, was walking for her son Boomer who passed away on Aug. 12 after he struggled with addiction.

“It’s great to see everyone come together and support this,” she said.

The walk was organized by the Young Professional Rotary Club of Bordentown, a new group formed out of the Bordentown Rotary, which began earlier this year.

Co-chairs Hillary Moore and Katrina Brophy, both of Bordentown City, said they thought it was important to get everyone together and show they supported those in recovery.

“I personally have lost someone to addiction,” Moore said.

That’s why she said it was important to get a large crowd together to “break the stigma” that those with addiction face.

Bill Mercantini, the president of the Bordentown Rotary, said the event had been a vision of his for a while and he was glad to be a part of the walk for those in recovery.

“I’m walking for Nick,” he said, referring to a family member.

For many of those in attendance, the loss from addiction weighed heavily on their minds as they walked. Michelle Trogdon, of Hamilton, Shannon Sticca, of Bordentown Township, and Chris Millington, of Bordentown Township, said between their family and friends they lost three people to overdoses within a three-week span over the summer.

Millington said it was great to see more than 200 people turn out for the walk.

“It’s so awesome and the thing is, it’s a sad thing and it’s a good thing, we know everyone here pretty much and it’s kind of sad because we’re all so connected,” she said.

For Angelique Flynn, of Burlington City, being a part of the walk allowed her to share her story to try and inspire others in recovery.

“I’m active in the community as a volunteer,” she said. “I own my business, I teach yoga. I am a homeowner and I live a truly amazing life and I’m so blessed to have it. I tell you all of this because this wasn’t always my story.”

She recalled trying to fill a void in her life and never being quite able to do so.

“My favorite thing to use was drugs,” she said.

Eventually, she was able to get into a 12-step program and now has been sober for eight years, but she still sees how addiction is affecting her community.

“The longer I stay clean, the more people I’ve lost,” she said.

Bordentown City Mayor Jim Lynch said the best way to try and tackle the problem is to come together for events like the walk to show that the community members support each other.

“You have no better cooperation than we have right now between the two municipalities (Bordentown City and Bordentown Township),” he said.

Lynch highlighted the work of resident Kevin Moore, who has been active with Bordentown Residents Against Drugs, and currently serves as the Bordentown Township/City Municipal Alliance Coordinator, for his work to bring resources and awareness to those struggling.

Before the walk, a list of more than 50 names of people both living and deceased who had battled or were battling addiction was read so that those walking would have them on their minds.

Here are some of the images that I took the other night:

Toscanos donated their fabulous Mac-N-Cheese!

Hampton Behavior Health Center

Sundays Catering

Bill Mercantini our Bordentown Rotary Club President.

Bordentown Mayor Lynch

Angelique Flynn

Hilary Moore of the Young Professionals Bordentown Rotary Club.

Father Matt Tucker

Hilary Moore asking for a moment of silence before heading out.

Once again, thank you all for participating and volunteering. This event I think will be even bigger next year.

Yours In Rotary,